Saturday, August 30, 2008

My question is what voices will dominate the coming years: ones showing some humility found in the quiet of nature? At the other extreme, how often will thing implode, will the center not hold?

I'm embedding two videos that show two possibilities. Of course, our path will be somewhere in between. But enjoy as we move into the thick of our hyper-partisan election year. I'm going to try and stay hopeful, turning off the MSM completely and incorporaTING SOME soundscapes I took in Big Sur as a counter-point, but we shall see.....

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Memo to Hollywood: Stop Dividing Up the World and Enclosing the Commons.

Why Not Join a True Global Commons, Ecology Movement?

In a series of Hollywood pictures and videos, particularly the opening night of the HollyShorts Film Festival -- the surreal, celebrity flows of light, sounds and images were revealed to me. I saw the incredible hunger that exists for more and more celebrity images.

I've been exploring the sounds and spaces of LA in different locales, public and private, ranging from the downtown Disney Hall to the streets of Hollywood to our pubic parks, all seen and heard from a fresh angle, all contributed to this emerging digital commons. Thanks to Josh Kun and the larger sound studies school, I began this exploration.

The beautiful Egyptian Theatre's courtyard, its natural light, or darkness, was so overwhelmed and inundated by the streams of flashes that, if a photo was taken without a flash (as I did), then the actresses, actors and other human bodies, shapes, and figures appear fragmented and distorted. Check out my photo-stream for examples. Of course, the flashes eventually move on, but traces remain in the images that zoom around the world.

I actually love this effect and would totally check out TMZ or MTV with some behind-the-scene DIY photos. The Cubist, cool effect got me thinking about how innovation can and should exist in mainstream Hollywood.

It is human nature to want to share memories, to pass along images, to recommend sounds from one friend to another. Entrenched industries are always scared when technologies give consumers new, disruptive tools through which to use established products and services. As we saw when the Writer's Guild of America embraced social media, there is no reason that the studio media world cannot co-exist with the Access to Knowledge/Free Culture camps. I discovered the existence of these networks in my Set Top Cop seminar with Cory Doctorow. One label used is the "Access to Knowledge" (A2K) movement.

We are about to enter the next stage of technological, "social media" innovation and digital media convergence. The press may call this the "Web 3.0" phase or the "social web." We should all step back, listen and look at our digital and public spaces? Do we finally want to take back some control over our own tools?

Final message to Hollywood powers that be: we are not your enemy; we simply want cool, interactive tools, ones we have control over. We want to be able to share content with our friends.

That's not too much to ask, is it?

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Thursday, August 07, 2008


Cory Doctorow, a co-editor over at BoingBoing, recently covered the American Library Association conference panel that he participated on, "Privacy: Is it time for a revolutiond." Cory's talk is an inspiring call to the librarians, and through the WWW, a worldwide digital audience to wake up, support libraries and create effective ways to ensure consumer privacy and consumer freedoms in a digital age (link).

Cory and I have a history; he has been one of the most influential people in my life. In his visiting Fulbright graduate Set Top Cop seminar, I spent a full semester learning from Cory about global struggles to protect the emerging "digital commons" and ensure Access to Knowledge. Some people have called this movement a new "Knowledge Ecology." So in a deja-vu to that fall almost two years ago when I had serious insomnia, I happened to be online and was the first person to comment on Cory's above post,
White papers are important and panels are excellent (it be nice if they were publicized beyond the converted however), but what about planting one's feet on the ground, like, maybe LA Public Library might want to make a Facebook group, before walled gardens and basic groups on FB req. an "advertising", ur, I mean, posting sur-charge.
Another BB reader called me out and challenged me to start a FB group myself.

I have spent a lot of time over the last two months thinking and writing about the future of the Internet. Are all these new, funky, interactive, digital media tools at their core just a social networked means for marketeers to promote brands, discuss what we should call these things amongst our own echo-chamber, Silicon Valleyed worlds and how to organize them? If there is something really called a digital commons, what are the norms - the lessons learned - around participation in such a "commons" and "unpublishing" those who allegedly violate these unclear standards? Finally, if there is a new digital commons (as I believe there is), then must all content distributed via the WWW be "free" or will we ever enable a "rich" digital culture so that creators are compensated for work spread online?

But a certain point, one needs to shut up, stop commenting, conversing, marketing, and blabbering and take action. So our little Facebook library group has been birthed. It's not the start of anything special; but public spaces are needed; the issues are complex; we should all have a little more humility, and fun, while we challenge Walled Gardens. Our group will be a little place to discuss these things, hopefully pushing FB to embrace more open standards. These walls exist in our Vegas-like, faux-urban Grove shopping malls, in our data-mined, over-commercialized, sorry-but-u-cant-control-yr-own Facebook profile or, most importantly, in our own over-networked minds, so often satiated with the latest consumer appendage for which we had no need.

So simply put, if you believe that children deserve to play, that public spaces should be open (and that we need more of them!) and that libraries are the perfect model and their computers should not be restricted by DRM, then join our FB group. If you want to be a part of a growing A2K, digital commons movement, then figure out some way to pitch in. Joining our group is a very small start.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008


On July 11, I attended the Farmlab's "Under Spring Optimist Breakfast...So-named because the first such program was held early in the morning in 2007 underneath the N. Spring Street Bridge on a Friday the 13th. 'That's a date and time only an optimist would love,' said one of that program's organizers. The upbeat moniker stuck" (link).

It was great catching up with old friends from USC, like my Professor Manuel Castells, who gave the keynote talk at lunch later in the day and at breakfast, whose talk proceeded, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. It was also sweet running into Janet Owen, who participated in a USC Free Culture panel I helped organize and moderated entitled, "“Free[ing] Culture in Los Angeles: Beyond the Ivory Tower" (link). See my photo-stream from the day.

Mayor V rolled in well after the morning's talks had begun. It was amusing watching the Mayor scan the "room", urrr, outdoor public space under the bridge, trying to find fellow V-supporters to make eye contact with. It was even more interesting to see the Mayor respond to Manuel Castells' talk on "Grassrooting the Global City," particularly how Los Angeles could create a system of "distributed, grassroot parks" and move away from the inclination for "grand" central parks. Take a listen of the talk, unfortunately, I ran out of memory when Castells get to the heart of how Los Angeles can embrace such a vision. Given that Castells is one of the most intelligent men on the earth, it's still a good listen. Enjoy.

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